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The Future 





U & Depository Copy 

Dr. John A. Knauss 

Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere 

Administrator, NOAA 

U.S. Department of Commerce 



The Future 



NOAA, the nation's oceanic and atmospheric 
agency, through science and service: 

Describes and predicts changes in the Earth's 

Manages the Nation's ocean and coastal resources, 

Promotes global stewardship of the world's oceans 
and atmosphere. 

To fulfill this mission, NOAA: 

Conducts oceanic and atmospheric research to 

improve environmental products and services 

Develops and maintains environmental data bases 
and disseminates environmental information 

♦ Severe storm and flood warnings and weather 

♦♦* Charts of U.S. waters and airspace 

♦♦♦ River flow and water resource forecasts 

♦♦♦ Solar and space environmental forecasts 

♦♦♦ Climate change prediction 

♦♦♦ Ocean and coastal analyses and assessments 

Manages the marine environment by: 

♦♦♦ Assessing the quality of the marine environment 

♦♦♦ Conserving living and non-living marine re- 

♦ Administering Federal-State coastal zone manage- 

ment programs 

♦ Operating marine sanctuaries and estuarine 


Protects habitat and endangered species 

Operates environmental satellites, ships, aircraft 
and buoys. 


1. Increase the economic benefits of weather sen/ices. 

Weather sensitive sectors of the economy such as 
agribusiness, construction, transportation, and water resources 
management require far more reliable mesoscale weather 
forecasts in the 0-48 hour range. Our ongoing program to 
modernize the weather service should make a significant 
contribution to this goal. 

2. Rebuild our fishery resources. 

We must now improve the precision of our science, 
move from hindcasting to forecasting, and slow the race for the 
fish by limiting access where appropriate. 

3. Restore our coasts; exercise our stewardship for the 

marine environment. 

The major ocean health problems are along the edges, 
not the open ocean. We must further develop our program of 
tracking the state of marine pollution and its sources as well as 
the state of living marine resources and their habitats. To 
achieve the latter will require significant improvement in our 
understanding of fisheries ecology. 

Congress has given us the opportunity to develop marine 
sanctuaries and to restore damaged marine habitats and the 
marine environment with funds won from those responsible 
for the damage. We must develop responsible and aggressive 
programs in both marine sanctuaries and marine restoration. To 
do this, we must build a stronger base of coastal ocean science. 


4. Learn enough about the ocean-atmosphere system to 

achieve a long-range forecasting ability. 

One can mostly ignore ocean-atmosphere Interactions 
when making one and two day forecasts. These interactions 
become of increasing importance as one extends the forecast 
time. They probably become dominant when attempting to 
predict "global change" with time constants of a decade or 
more. Our understanding of the coupled system is not ad- 
equate to provide successful forecasts except in a very limited 
range of situations. 

5. Monitor and predict the health of our atmosphere. 

I expect the pollution carrying capacity of the atmosphere 
is significantly less than that of the ocean. Tracking anthropo- 
genic gases and aerosols, and understanding their sources, sinks, 
and chemistry must continue to be a high priority. To under- 
standing, we must add an operational predictive capacity. 

6. Respond to Environmental Emergencies. 

In addition to coping with chronic environmental 
threats, we must expand and improve our quick response 
capability for monitoring volcanic eruptions, accidental releases 
of pollutants and radioactivity, and marine spills of hazardous 


1. Maintain the vitality of NOAA 's research and development. 

We will be perceived as a relevant agency fifteen years 
from now only if our science remains strong in the meantime. 
Accordingly, the best and the brightest scientists must have 
modern laboratory equipment and facilities. They must have 
the resources and flexibility to pursue new and promising lines 
of inquiry as these emerge. 

2. Complete the NWS Modernization and Associated Restruc- 


We must improve our observing, communications, and 
information processing capabilities. We must improve short- 
range numerical weather prediction as well as warnings. 
Toward these ends, we must restructure and train the staff. 

3. Modernize the NOAA fleet. 

We must improve our staying power and diagnostic 
capabilities at sea through a mix of rehabilitation, purchase, 
lease, and charter. 

4. Develop a state of the art environmental data management 

and distribution system. 

Other agencies and the research community depend on 
NOAA's data holdings for the conduct of their work. As the 
Nation's Earth Systems Agency, NOAA must improve its 
ability to capture, archive, quality control and make accessible 
atmospheric, oceanic and geophysical data. 

5. Build a global ocean observing system. 

Whether it be for tracking the health of the coastal oceans 
or predicting the next El Nino, we must work with the 
international community to develop a systematic, high quality, 
relevant and continuing set of ocean observations on a global 

6. Develop a state of the art charting system. 

Rapidly expanding technology — from GPS to GIS to 
VLBI to absolute gravity to computer graphics to photogram- 
metry techniques to multi-beam sonars — provide NOAA's 
oldest component, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, with 
requirements as well as opportunities to break new ground. 

7. Modernize our computing and communications infra- 


To reach the above goals, we must keep pace with 
breathtaking increases in computing power and high-speed 
digital communications. 

Finally, NOAA is not responsible for developing all of 
the science and understanding necessary to conduct its mission. 
Much of that will come from research universities. I do believe 
NOAA has a responsibility to ensure the health of those 
universities actively engaged in programs that contribute to 
NOAA's mission. Continuing improvement of NOAA's 
relationship with the academic community remains a high 
priority. Q